Friday, January 19, 2018

Rejoicing Spirits services in San Angelo, Texas are always special, but the monthly service in December provided a glimpse of the original vision the founders likely had for the ministry.

The “no-shush” service, held monthly at Sierra Vista United Methodist Church, started in November 2016. For the past year, attendees with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) have been provided the opportunity to serve as acolyte, offer prayers, read scripture, pray from the heart or serve as the person who takes up the collection (mostly red paper hearts saying what congregants wish to offer to God).

In November, Sierra Vista invited a Little League baseball team, several members of which belong to the church’s youth group, to volunteer at the service. As the boys showed new attendees where to go and helped people to their seats, they began talking about how much fun they were having. A slight discomfort in the beginning, from being around people with disabilities for the first time, changed to talking and laughing together at the fellowship time after the service.

Sierra Vista church leadership wanted to make the December service a special one for the people served by Mosaic and others with intellectual disabilities who attend. Several adult Sunday School classes took up a collection to purchase a new Bible for everyone in attendance with IDD.

And that Little League baseball team who came in November to volunteer? Their participation did not stop there. They wrapped all 40 Bibles purchased by the church and came back to worship at the Rejoicing Spirits service in December.

After the pastor gave the sermon, communion was offered for the first time since Rejoicing Spirits began. As the people went up to take the offering row by row, something special happened. Staff went with them. Not just to ensure their safety, but to take communion with them. The boys on the baseball team went with them, and so did their parents. Members of the church, some who have come to every service and some attending for the first time, all joined in the communion.

From the back of the room was a vision of exactly what the founders of Rejoicing Spirits had in mind – a truly Godly moment, with all of God’s people disabilities or not, young and old, of all denominations, worshipping together.

It was one of those special moments that reminds us why we do the work we do.

Ami Mizell-Flint, Community Relations Officer